Bruce Aisher explores the effects of analogue recording methods, explaining why they might be beneficial to your production process.
On the face of it, there’s an interesting conundrum buried in the suggestion that analogue recording sounds better, most recently debated by Gregory Scott in his Attack column on ‘the love of tape’. All kinds of technical expertise has been utilised to improve the technical performance of audio recording formats over the last half a century or more, but more than any other point in that period we’re now looking back to older hardware to deliver that elusive bit of extra vibe in our music. So what’s really going on? What is it that makes these apparently less accurate recording techniques so appealing?
In this article we’re working with some of the elements of Sample Magic’s recent Vinyl & Tape Drum Hits and Vinyl & Tape Melodic Shots packs in order to take a closer look at the technical reasons behind . We’ve also managed to procure the original samples prior to analogue processing by way of a comparison.
Before we dive into specific testing, it’s worth considering one of the most important ways that analogue recording can alter the sound. Tape in particular is associated with noise in the form of hiss. This varies in terms of its frequency content between tape machines, and dependent on the type of tape used. Many people consider hiss to add character, but it’s generally considered a problem, though better machines tend to have increased headroom (see our examination of levels for an explanation), minimising the issue.
Here’s an analysis of the frequency spectrum of white noise:

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